Thursday, September 29, 2011

You're Invited!

Contributed by Katie Foley

As a politically-active, hippie lawyer, one of the organizations I receive emails from is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  I recently received this gem, inviting me to a free discussion:

St. Paul: Organized with our ally OutFront Minnesota, this next event will cover the significant progress that is being made within the LGBT community, from the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to the rapidly evolving legal struggle for marriage equality. Featuring Sharon McGowan, Attorney, Appellate Section of Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and Anthony Winer, Professor of Constitutional Law at William Mitchell.
Advances in LGBT Equality in the Age of Obama
Wednesday, October 12, 7:00 p.m.

William Mitchell College of Law, Mitchell Auditorium, 578 Summit Ave.
This event is free and open to all.
Refreshments will be provided.

Since this is an event "open to all" I thought I would advertise it on the blog where like-minded and/or interested people could be made aware of it.  It's in my calendar, I hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm Already Afraid - What Else D'ya Got?

Contributed by Katie Foley

As a political hack and diligent signer of on-line petitions, my inbox is daily flooded with political messages and alerts.  The AFL-CIO wants me to "Take a Stand."  Paul Thissen tells me what it'll take to "[Clean] Up Their Mess." The DFL advises me that there will be "Consequences." Barack and Michelle Obama have invited me to lunch. 

These are causes, organizations and candidates I support, yet these emails immediately get moved to the trash bin. Lately Liberals have been struggling to rally around a coherent message that really moves people to action.  "Hope" and "Change" rang in the hearts of so many in 2008 because we had only just begun to suffer what would take government economists months to admit was the "Worst Recession since the Great Depression" - a phrase I am so sick of hearing I could puke.  Let's call it what it is . . . painful. 

Though the official unemployment rate is 9.1% nationally,

"Combined, the 14 million officially unemployed; the "underemployed" part-timers who want full-time work; and "discouraged" people who have stopped looking make up 16.2 percent of working-age Americans."  

These are unfortunate numbers for any of us who fall into any of the above three categories. Life is a sea of uncertainty, with pride subservient to necessity. In a mere four years, 25% more young people between the ages of 25 to 34 have moved back in with their parents, 45% of whom would be living in poverty if they lived alone.  Recent numbers show that 1 in 6 Americans is living in poverty.

These are our people and I daresay that the last thing they need in their lives is more fear.  Yet the DFL has the audacity to tell me there will be "Consequences" for the actions of our political rivals, warning me of the political potholes in my future – that could possibly be avoided if I could spare $5.

We live during an era characterized by fear and uncertainty. I find it hard to believe that the DFL is attempting to employ more fear, more uncertainty to achieve its goal of regaining Democratic control of government.  If I am any more fearful or uncertain I may simply stop leaving the house. Unfortunately, it’s hard to cast a ballot from underneath my comforter.    

Aside from the cognitive dissidence of trying to motivate through fear a group of individuals who are fearful enough, studies have shown that it is conservative brains that have over-developed fear centers.  Liberal brains, on the other hand, can better process complexity.  I have also heard that Democrats are stronger proponents of GOTV efforts because if we can get people to show up then they will likely vote in our favor.

We are the party of science. We know that the issues we face are complex.  We understand that one must consider the source when it’s Exxon-Mobile assuring us that “fracking” is perfectly safe.  Though we may be willing to capitulate that evolution is a “theory,” we are more willing to accept that Genesis is a far-out story, not an accurate accounting of the Earth’s creation. If science tells us that we can better grasp complexity, and statistical analysis shows us that the biggest struggle for Democrats is getting their supporters to the polls, let us convince people to show up to the polls in 2012 by imparting upon them the viability of our solutions to the complex issues we face. 

We are also the party of inclusion.  When we can truly reach out to our friends and neighbors we have the ability to make them hopeful and optimistic about the future.  We need to use our ability to understand complexity, analyze the facts, evaluate scientific evidence and rearticulate what we’ve concluded to those around us to convince the populace that they have a stake in the next election, that all is not lost if we can form a cohesive plan and then stick to it!   

I know that, more and more, winning elections has become about who can raise the most money and spend it in the most effective manner.  A candidate for the U.S. House has to raise $10,000 a week to be competitive in an election.  That's a lot of fundraising!  In the post-Citizen's United world, where a Super-PAC is not PAC Man on steriods, being the party of the down-and-out can be a difficult place to raise funds.  But so far GE, GM, and Apple do not get to cast a ballot come election time. 

Fundraising is important, but so is taking an honest approach to complex issues.  Liberal and Progressive candidates and causes need to start treating us like adults, or at least stop trying to motivate us with fear.  Fear works for conservatives because they are a more fearful lot. Liberals, however, need to be told why a particular approach or idea is the best.  Stop telling me about some vague “Consequences” and tell me “Why Our Job Plan Will Work.”  Instead of inviting me to lunch with the leader of the free world (if it sounds too good to be true....) tell me what Obama is going to do to live up to his own rhetoric during a second term. 

Let’s use our time and energy to develop a message that gets at an issue’s complexity and yet is easy enough to recall during that chance political discussion in the supermarket check-out. Let’s stop invoking fear and start invoking facts. Let’s get people invested in the election through appealing to their intellect, not their quaking centers of uncertainty. Let’s be clear and concise about why Democrats can fix things, not about why we’re better than those jerks over there. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Barb Goodwin to Sleep with Fridley and Columbia Heights Mayors

Now that I have your attention, I should probably clarify what I mean by the headline.

Senator Barb Goodwin plans to raise awareness for the Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well-Being by participating in the Center's "RoofRaiser."

Tonight (Friday, September 16) Barb and Fridley Mayor Scott Lund will be kicking off the RoofRaiser event at Bob's Produce in Fridley.  If you can't make it to Bob's Produce, join Barb and Columbia Heights Mayor Gary Anderson at Top Valu Liquors in Columbia Heights. All monies raised during the event will benefit children, adolescents and families struggling with emotional health issues.

Come out to Bob's Produce between 4-5 for "kick-off music, finger foods, Dunn Brothers Coffee, and DQ Blizzard samples."  Or, come out to Top Valu Liquors from 4 - 8 for "Brats, Polish and and Hot Dogs sold by the CH Booster Club" along with an appearance by the Vikings Cheerleaders.  Participants will be ascending to the roofs at 6 p.m., where it is my understanding they will spend the night.

This is a great cause and a great opportunity to support Barb, who was our District's fierce defender in the Senate, bringing sense, reason and sometimes levity to the craziness that was our last legislative session.

For more information, or to donate to the cause, check out these websites:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

You're Goddamned Right I'm a Liberal.

Contributed by Katie Foley
It is a relatively well known fact that the so-called “grassroots” Tea Party movement is actually a front for corporations and their boards to rally the masses using their own prejudices, insecurities and uncertainties to vote against their interests in the name of some vague promise of a return to “liberty.” 

People who could not place where they’ve heard the name "Mussolini" decry liberal leaders, including their own president, as alternately fascist and socialist, Nazi and communist.  They hold signs depicting the leader of the free world in “white face,” either unaware or uncaring of the gross racism implied by the image.

And yet wealthy men have paired up with opportunistic politicians to rally a base of people who are too caught up with the frenzied atmosphere of uncertainty surrounding them to realize that they are being manipulated into speaking out against the very things from which they benefit.  Mothers with children on Medicaid showed up to rallies opposing “Obamacare,” claiming they weren’t going to allow the government to interfere with their health insurance.  Poor people who have seen their property taxes spike and energy prices soar, while not getting an adequate pay raise for years, speak out against increasing the tax rate on the richest 1%, claiming that doing so is “un-American.”

During last night’s GOP debate, Mitt Romney proposed that to help the middle class, he would eliminate the taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains.  This would not help the 7.7% of Americans that do not have a savings or checking account, which includes 20% of the population earning less than $30,000/year. As for a cut in taxes on dividends and capital gains, this will benefit the people who are already in the upper echelons of American society.  At least 75% of the income of the top 400 earners in America is derived from dividends and capital gains. Meanwhile, minimum wage earners and people living pay check to pay check have very little to invest, therefore deriving no benefit from Romney's proposed tax cuts to help the middle class.

But “tax” has become a dirty word and the idea of cutting taxes, by which I mean any tax aside from the cigarette tax, has become the de facto “will of the American people" even though polls consistently show that more than 60% of us would be willing to see taxes raised on the wealthiest Americans.  Yet, the GOP's big plan to jump-start our economy is simply more of the same - tax breaks to the rich who, rather than reinvest in their business or community, fund political campaigns designed to ensure their money will not go anywhere besides where they want it to, whether that be to their furrier, jeweler, or directly to their off-shore account in some tax haven somewhere. 

The beliefs of the Tea Party are consistently decried as lies, or are at least acknowledged as less than the truth.  Leaders of the homophobia movement regularly get caught in an intimate but homosexual embrace. So-called grassroots movements are revealed time and time again to be nothing more than a well funded corporate battering ram, designed to increase the corporate bottom line while leaving in its wake the destruction of countless American dreams. And yet they still claim the moral high road.

Why do we allow this happen?  Why do we allow them to take the moral high road time and time again when they are actually engaging in appalling behavior that is damaging our country? Why do we keep letting them dictate to us the content of our American dream, instead of standing up to correct the record?  We let them use our willingness to allow women to be in charge of their own reproduction distract the populace from the lying, cheating and stealing that is going on right in front of them.  We allow complicity in the conservative destruction of the American dream because we keep thinking that people elected to serve the general welfare could not possibly be so self-involved, or that the people who elect them will make an informed decision instead of a gut-reaction to hyperbole laced talking points the next time around.   
We need to stop letting Conservatives win by using vague words, asserting part-truths, and preying on our all too human emotion of fear. Let’s call out the Tim Pawlenty’s for their unlawful actions that they boldly brag about while campaigning.  Let’s call out the Mitt Romneys, who despite his lack of neckties will never be able to relate to the “average American.”  Let us not be intimidated when they screech about the liberal bias of today's "gotcha" media, when Rupert Murdoch is one of the main financiers of the Tea Party movement.

Liberal and liberty have the same root word, and yet we consistently let them paint us as the enemies of liberty.  Enough is enough! By being the friends of liberty we are the friends of the American people and therefore we are friends of the Republic that derives its sovereignty from the people.  We are for the people, and it’s time we were a little more assertive about that fact.